By Natalie Simms
As students return to Armuchee High School in August, they will have some new wall inspiration thanks to a duo of creative sophomores and supportive staff members. Students Makayla Downs and Emma Harrell were given the green light this week from Principal John Rhodarmer to transform three bathrooms with positive, inspirational messages.
“At the end of the school year, the students came up with this idea and put together sketches and approached Principal Rhodarmer,” says Jennifer Dougherty, an English teacher at AHS, who also heads up the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter with school Social Worker Kaitlyn Wilson, who serves the entire Armuchee school district.
“He thought it was great and sent them to us. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for two years and when the girls suggested the project, it was just the catalyst to get the ball rolling. These girls are natural leaders and we just let them make decisions on colors, fonts and just use their creativity and artistic talent.”
So all this week, the students, along with Dougherty and Wilson, have been transforming three of the girls bathrooms in the school. The school funded the paint and supplies for less than $100.
“Each bathroom has a theme. The girls freehanded a lot of it and some of it we used stencils,” says Wilson. “These are great positive uplifting messages for our kids. They are about kindness, having self-confidence and self-worth…messages that will build up girls and be a visual reminder to be positive and kind and to take care of themselves.
“Sometimes the bathroom is a retreat…a place to get away. So when they see these messages, we hope they are inspired…if we can change the mood of just one girl, it is so worth it.”
The group has plans to expand the project throughout the school including transforming the boys’ bathrooms as well. It will be an ongoing project that will continue into the upcoming school year.
“The boys are part of this plan, too,” says Dougherty. “We also plan to add positive messages in their bathrooms as well…things that remind them to be positive, kind, self-worth and about working hard. Our boys face many of the same challenges our girls do.”
They hope to get the boys’ bathrooms updates later this fall, along with a few other areas of the school.
“They are working to modernize the school, but that will take a few years. The kids really need this now…we really wanted to do something to brighten up the school. And Mr. Rhodarmer is so supportive and always looking for ways to improve the school,” says Wilson.
They have shared a few photos of the project on social media to lots of positive comments.
“It’s amazing what a little paint and some positive quotes can do. But, we are keeping some things a surprise for our students,” says Dougherty. “We also have lots of new stuff coming up this school year including a new character education program we’re very excited about.”
Wilson adds, “This is definitely a project worth spending out time on this summer. It has not felt like work…it’s been fun doing this with our students and for our students. We’re just really exciting about this initiative and getting this message out.”